Childhood is the most innocent stage in a human life. It is that phase of life where achild is free from all the tensions, fun-loving, play and learns new things, and is thesweetheart of all the family members. But this is only one side of the story. Theother side is full of tensions and burdens. In poor families, the innocent child is notthe sweetheart of the family members, instead he is an earning machine working theentire day in order to satisfy the needs and wants of his/her family. This is what iscalled CHILD LABOUR. There are various causes and consequences of childlabour. Eliminating child labour is one of the biggest challenges that the whole worldis facing.Child labour includes working children who are below a certain minimum age. Thispractice is going on since long and is one of the worst forms of child exploitation. Childlabour not only causes damage to a child’s physical and mental health but also keep himdeprive of his basic rights to education, development, and freedom. According tostatistics provided by UNICEF, there are an estimated 250 million children aged 5 to 14years employed in child labour worldwide and this figure is continuously increasing.Child labour is not only affecting under-developed and developing countries, butdeveloped countries are also facing this though the rate is comparatively very less. Childlabour in Asia accounts for the highest percentage of child labour (61%) followed byAfrica (32%). According to International Labour Organization (ILO), if child labour will bebanned and all children gets proper education, worlds total income would be raised bynearly 22% over 20 years, which accounts for more than $4 trillion. Banning child labourwill help in boosting the economy of a country
CAUSES OF CHILD LABOURPoverty is undoubtedly a dominant factor in the practice of child labour. Families on orbelow the poverty line force their children into work to supplement their householdsmeagre income. Eradicating poverty, however, is only the first step on the road toeliminating child labour.There are many other factors that conspire to drive children into employment, none ofwhich is unique to any one country or any one familys circumstances. Only when wefully understand these reasons can we begin to address the problems associated withchild labour:• Cuts in social spending - particularly education and the health services - have a direct impact on poverty. With little or no access to schooling, children are forced into employment at an early age in order to survive.• Parents may effectively "sell" their children in order to repay debts or secure a loan
• The prevalence of AIDS throughout many developing countries has resulted in an enormous number of orphans who are forced to become their own breadwinners.• The demand for cheap labour by contractors means that children are often offered work in place of their parents. With such narrow margins, contractors such as produce-growers and loom-owners know that children can be exploited and forced to work for much less than the minimum wage.• Children may also be sent into hazardous jobs in favour of parents, who can less afford the time or money to become ill or injured.• Child soldiers are forcibly enlisted into military service and operations.• Employers often justify the use of children by claiming that a childs small, nimble hands are vital to the production of certain products such as hand-knotted carpets and delicate glassware .• The international sex trade places great value on child prostitutes. Girls -and to a lesser extent boys- are kidnapped from their homes (or sold) to networks of child traffickers supplying overseas markets; poverty and sexual and racial discrimination also drive children into the tourist sex trade.• Young workers are unaware of their rights and less likely to complain or revolt. In many countries, the legislation is simply not effective enough to support these workers.
CONSEQUENCES FOR CHILDRENChild labour does more than deprive children of their education and mental andphysical development - their childhood is stolen.Immature and inexperienced child labourers may be completely unaware of the shortand long term risks involved in their work.Working long hours, child labourers are often denied a basic school education, normalsocial interaction, personal development and emotional support from their family. Besidethese problems, children face many physical dangers - and death - from forced labour:• Physical injuries and mutilations are caused by badly maintained machinery on farms and in factories, machete accidents in plantations, and any number of hazards encountered in industries such as mining, ceramics and fireworks manufacture• Pesticide poisoning is one of the biggest killers of child labourers. In Sri Lanka, pesticides kill more children than diphtheria, malaria, polio and tetanus combined. The global death toll each year from pesticides is supposed to be approximately40000• Growth deficiency is prevalent among working children, who tend to be shorter and lighter than other children; these deficiencies also impact on their adult life
• Long-term health problems, such as respiratory disease, asbestosis and a variety of cancers, are common in countries where children are forced to work with dangerous chemicals• HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases are rife among the one million children forced into prostitution every year; pregnancy, drug addiction and mental illness are also common among child prostitutes• Exhaustion and malnutrition are a result of underdeveloped children performing heavy manual labour, working long hours in unbearable conditions and not earning enough to feed themselves adequately
Effects of Child LabourThere are very bad effects of child labour for our society, which forcessome children to steal things from others in order to satisfy their dailyliving. Many small girls are even made to indulge in prostitution.There are various organizations which are fighting against child labour byhelping children and imparting education among that part of society fromwhere majority of the child labour comes. Poor families should be givenknowledge about family planning/control so that they are not burdened bychildren. It would be advisable not to keep small children at home fortaking domestic help in daily household chores. Let us all take some stepin this direction so that we can bring smiles to many faces and make thisworld a beautiful place for a child to live in.
Many NGOs like Bachpan Bachao Andolan, CARE India, ChildRights and You, Global march against child labor etc. have beenworking to eradicate child labour in India. In 2005, Pratham, anIndian NGO was involved in one of the biggest rescue operationswhen around 500 child labourers were rescued from zarisweatshops in North East Delhi  though child labour still goeson today.As a result of the ill treatment and lack of law enforcement by thegovt., a PIL was filled by Save the Childhood Foundation (BachpanBachao Andolan), which has resulted in a fundamental strategicshift towards criminalisation of child labour, effective lawenforcement including jail time, making child labour unprofitable bystringent fines on employers, and convergence of various govt.departments and schemes.
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